“NO PRISON IS BIG ENOUGH TO CONTAIN FREE SPEECH.” -MAZEN DARWISH
May 3, 2023 marks 30 whole years since the United Nations General Assembly signified it as “WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY.” The shape of media has changed a lot since its establishment. A day celebrated to honor the work of journalists and the importance of the press around us.
This year’s theme as per UNESCO – “Shaping a future of rights: freedom of expression as the engine of other human right.”
STARTING FROM ITS ‘ORIGIN’
Whenever journalism has been in danger, it has always been a matter of concern. As without the press, our lives, as we know today, wouldn’t have been the same. Therefore, when after the frequent attacks during The African Civil Wars at the end of 20th century, on a lot of journalists, a similar concern was raised over there.
Therefore, in 1991, a gathering of a group of journalists in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, was held on encouraging “Independent and Pluralist press”. Leading to the creation of the “Windhoek Declaration” document laying a foundation for access of information as well as voicing of opinions for people everywhere. A number of 63 people from 38 countries attended this.
Later in the year 1993, The UNESCO approved this idea and the UN General Assembly proclaimed May 3, as the “World Press Freedom Day.”
This day according to UNESCO is “A benchmark for ensuring press freedom around the world.”
WHY IS THIS DAY REMEMBERED AS OF SIGNIFICANCE
“FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, IF IT MEANS ANYTHING AT ALL, MEANS THE FREEDOM TO CRITICIZE AND OPPOSE.” -GEORGE ORWELL
The press, as we know today, is an important form of communication around the world. It’s as important as being considered as the 4th pillar of Democracy. This day is especially celebrated for the existence of press, especially print. As it is said, “The press works for the governed, and not the governors,” this is what connects us from those governing us. Press helps expose the crimes and tell us about the happenings around the world. The world as we know it today, is came to be known as a “Global Village.” Everything connected and known about.
This day is celebrated to increase the need to protect and understand the rights of the journalists, understanding the need for press, and promotion of free media. To serve this as the basic human right. This freedom of Press is really important in this modern day where everything can be bought off by the people of class. We live in a generation which speaks its mind.
So, on this day, each year, it is reminded to respect the journalists that work under extreme conditions to bring out news and all the different branches of press that provides us the whereabouts of the world and keep us connected. It tries to gain your attention to always help fight for the rights of the Press.
CELEBRATIONS ON THIS DAY
According to the UNESCO, from May 1-4, 40 events around The World Freedom Day will be held in the city of New York by the community including, universities, civil society organizations, media freedom networks etc.
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX: INDIA AND ITS RANKING
Media has spiked off in India with increasing awareness around every day. While our journalists have reached on to some spectacular heights and we have achieved a lot since media originated in our country, this year we see a major strip down from the World Press Freedom Index. With India slipping to rank 161 out of 180 this year. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) an international NGO, self-proclaimed to protect freedom of media, decides the global ranking of press freedom every year.
While we started with a strong quote, ending this year of “World Press Freedom Day”, with another strong quote by MK Gandhi- “Freedom of Press is a precious privilege that no country can forego.”
Respect the press, respect the freedom.